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Going, going, gone! Sold to the discerning homeowner

If the thought of attending an auction frightens you, you’re not alone. Most people find the quick-paced atmosphere intimidating at first, says Jen Jamieson, co-owner of 403Auction and one of six cast members on the new Canadian TV series Lost and Sold.

“The auctioneer is auctioning so quickly … that people are almost afraid to bid because they don’t want to get stuck paying more than what they were expecting,” says Jamieson, who’s been in the business for more than a decade, along with husband Jamie.

On the show, dealers Robbie, Kathleen, Lou and John get the thrill of finding hidden gems among rows of unclaimed shipping goods up for auction. But Jamieson says with a little coaching, homeowners can discover great discounts at auction houses as well.

“The best thing to do is go to an auction first where you’re not going to buy anything,” she encourages, adding that it’s a good idea to bring along an experienced buyer or, in lieu of that, to let the auction employees know you’re new. “We always tell people to stand close to us and give us a freaked out look if they need help and we make sure they don’t get into trouble,” she says.

Before going to an auction plan out what you need and talk to your interior decorator (if you don’t have one consider looking one up on, or have him or her attend with you, so that you pick out only what you need.

Jamieson estimates that 95 per cent of the goods sold at 403Auction are brand new. Unclaimed shipping freight makes up the majority of items, including things that were refused at delivery because consumers didn’t want to pay duty, packages that were illegible and a small number that were actually lost in transit. At auction, buyers typically pay half price or less and that amounts to great value, she says.

Some of the household items available include televisions, hardware flooring, kitchen and bath faucets, leather furniture, wall hangings, electric fireplaces and decorative candles – all of which Jamieson has purchased for her own home. “I don’t know how much we’ve saved, but we save enough that we replace things frequently,” says Jamieson. “We get such good deals, why not change it when décor changes?”

If you think you might be ready to experience the thrill of the auction, Jamieson has the following tips:

  • Do your homework by visiting the auction house online prior to the sale in order to preview available items. 403Auction posts its pictures the night before, for example.
  • Bring a deep wallet; holding the high bid when you can’t back it with cash is a no-no.
  • Take your cue from the pros. An auction is a great place to watch and learn.
  • Keep a level head and know your ceiling.
  • Be willing to buy where-is/as-is. A used or dirty item could be the next real gem.
  • Develop a knack for spotting knock-offs.
  • Keep your eye on the prize. If you get distracted by small talk, you might miss out.
  • Be prepared to lose. It wouldn’t be an auction if everybody could win.

Produced by RTR Media, Lost and Sold airs Mondays at 10 p.m. EST on Slice™. For more information, or to view full episodes and behind-the-scenes photo galleries, visit

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